Something interesting and a bit disconcerting happened since I posted the previous installment of this story. I found out that *Suzie had discovered my blog (she has her own blog and wrote a post about my post) and had read at least one portion of this story - namely, she had read Part Five wherein I had posted a picture that I had found on the internet that was not of Suzie but that I was hoping would convey how she was attired the first time we met. She was not necessarily upset by my picture choice but disagreed with the idea that it was at all reflective of how she looked and I too feel that the picture fell short in communicating how feminine and charming she looked and had mainly chosen it because I wanted to be done writing that post and couldn't find an appropriate picture so I just picked that one.
Suzie had one other observation about my post that she spoke more on than anything else: the idea that in my story she is set up as the antagonist. Again, she didn't seem wholly displeased by this...just different parts disconcerted & amused by how it feels to read a story that happened in your life from someone else's perspective. However, it had never occurred to me that anyone could see her as an antagonist because that is not how I saw her. Ever. I wanted her to know this. I wanted her to know that I didn't like that picture for her either and that I never saw her as an antagonist in my life.
So I left a comment. On her blog. I commented on her blog. Squeeeeeee!
I told her I was sorry that I hadn't found a better picture to represent her. I told her that I never saw her as an antagonist and that it is funny/interesting that people's reactions to my telling them that Ben was dating someone else when we met are a mixture of raised eyebrows, forward leans and an "oooooh drama, tell me more" type attitude. I told her that's not what it was to me. I told her that to me it was very simple: I met a guy, I liked him, he was dating someone else, so I backed away (not that I had ever been very close). It's not strange really that people react that way because it's human nature...so I usually don't discourage it because I don't like to chastise people for being human even if I think it would be better for them to curb those impulses. I just tell my story and let people react how they will.
I also told her that I was grateful for her presence in Ben's life and that my reasons for that were totally selfish. I told her that I believed that if it had not been for her, Ben and I would not be together. I told her that I needed that "grace period" while they were dating to become comfortable with the idea of even just being friends with someone who was not religious AND that I was attracted to. I told her that I fully believe that if I had not had that "grace period", I would have cut off all ties with Ben due to being freaked out over my attraction to a non-religious, single man. (I had done it before, I'm sure I would have done it again). But seeing as he was not single, I felt safe to be friends with him and as long as I behaved in a way toward him and toward her that I would never feel internally ashamed of, then I was OK. No freaking out. (Funnily enough, she and I had a written conversation just after Ben and I got together about my behavior while they were dating and I've never come away from anything feeling more proud about how two people communicated with one another in the midst of some pretty heavy, and at times negative, emotions. She was a champ. And so was I).
I told her that I always make a point to tell people how she was an important part of our story because she was NOT an antagonist - she was another human being just living out her life and in doing so had a profound effect on my life. And for that, I will be forever grateful. I know that she wasn't intentionally acting in any way to better my life but it doesn't matter. Her existence was enough and that makes me both insanely happy and terrified. I think this was the thing that she was really getting at in her post: that all of our actions, both intentional and unintentional, affect other people. Merely existing and going through our lives has a ripple effect on the world. That is the part that both comforts and scares me...because I want my life to be a boon to others, but I cannot always control how my actions will affect others.
I wish I could quote her post and the comment she left in response to mine - she is a very good writer and seems contemplative and thoughtful - but a quick google search would reveal her identity. So for now all you get is my butchered interpretation of her words. I will tell you that she did say she was glad I commented and was very happy that we are happy (she had also said so in her original post) and that she herself was also very happy in love.
I wanted to write this little interlude before I moved on to the next part of our story. I wanted to write it because I wanted to put it out there for anyone who was thinking otherwise, that Suzie is not an antagonist and while I may not have liked some of the things she said or did, I believe that her presence in our lives was an important factor of how Ben and I ended up together.
After that night at Suzie's apartment where I came to realize that there was something going on between Ben and Suzie, he and I spent very little time together. We continued interacting semi-regularly on MySpace, but no more than he did with any of his other friends. We occasionally hung out but it was never alone and it was very infrequent. My feelings for him became hidden away (although I am sure I told myself that they were subsiding and I was getting over it). There were some awkward moments near the time that Ben and Suzie broke up but I will get into those in Part Seven.
For now I leave you with this photo of us trying to take a picture of ourselves in the pitch black but instead being blinded by my camera phone's flash: